The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) recently opened a 30-day comment period on the environmental assessment (EA) for EOG Resources' plans for directional drilling of production wells in an already developed area in the central portion of the Uinta play in northeast Utah. The comment period ends Jan. 13.

EOG's proposed project is in a very active production area in Uintah County, UT, about 30 miles from Vernal, UT, where BLM maintains offices for overseeing drilling in the Uinta. EOG has asked for permits to drill 11 natural gas wells from two existing pads.

BLM environmental coordinator Mark Wimmer lauded the company for working to protect the environment. Wimmer told NGI's Shale Daily it is relatively rare to have a comment period on an EA, which delays when EOG can actually begin its drilling.

BLM said that there should be less than an acre of disturbance/well pad under the plans submitted by EOG. No new roads need to be developed to the well sites because adequate ones already exist for each location.

A party identified as only "an outside group" requested the comment period, Wimmer said. Such requests are nearly always granted by BLM. There is no horizontal drilling planned, and the comments taken through the January date must be focused on the EA, nothing else, according to Wimmer.

Nearly four dozen operators were listed earlier this year by Shale Daily as holding acreage in Uinta, and 13 of them that disclosed their holding varied widely from 11,000 acres to more than 290,000 acres (see Shale Daily, March 24). Houston-based Newfield Exploration Co., had just added 70,000 acres to become the largest owner at 290,000 acres of what were described as largely undeveloped portions of BLM-managed lands.

EOG was listed as one of 34 companies that had not disclosed the total acreage it holds in Uinta, and it has no specifics about the play on its website other than identifying it as one of several areas of interest on a North American map. Wimmer said BLM had approved more than 700 permits for drilling in the formation as of the end of last year.

"Producers seem to know what they are going after there," he said.